Sunday, February 14, 2010
The Great Karaite Debate: Part 5
In Acts of Faith, Dan Ross spends a significant amount of his chapter on discussing the "atrocitites" of Karaites during World War II. Six pages in fact pointing out how we gained from a propaganda offensive that convinced the Nazis and their allies that we were not of the same stock as the Ashkenazi Jews they encountered. As he describes it, As a result, the Karaites were allowed to live under the same conditions as the rest of the non-Jewish population; subjected to some hardships but nothing remotely like those of other Jews. Karaite communal lands were confiscated and the government salaries which had been paid to their religious leaders were discontinued. But most continued to work at their pre-war occupations. Some actively collaborated with the Germas." How interesting that the foresight to find a means to survive is being used as a condemnation. How many Rabbanties had falsified passports, medical letters explaining their circumcisions as medical emergencies, anything they could produce to proclaim themselves as non-Jews. And how many of them participated in the burning of the ghettos, the 'ratting out' of their fellow Jews, not to mention the Kapos who actively performed the punishments, imprisonment, killing and deportation of their own people while still wearing the yellow badge of their Jewishness. I am not saying that there weren't Karaites that aided the Nazis. There are always collaborators, but to point out one segment of Judaism as committing this offense while at the same time ignoring the large number of Rabbanites that equally did so is offensive to all those that gave up their lives saving their fellow Jews.
Ross reports that Karaite offenses were a major topic of discussion in post-WWII Israel. As he points out, when the State said it would recognize and welcome Karaites to Israel, one Holocaust survivor wrote a letter in to the Jerusalem Post asying that they had survived for four years in the vicinity of Troki, Lithuania, disgusted by the unworthy behaviour of the Karaites that hounded their Jewish neighbours often collaborating with the Nazis. They wouldn't even associate with the persecuted Jews. They then go on to say that they know of Poles that rescued Jewish children but not a single Karaite that did so. Ross then reports that five to six hundred Karaites are said to have served in various units of the occupying Germans. Some even worked as interpreters. Others he said were accused of beating Jewish women and children in Lutsk and assisting with the liquidation of the ghetto. If this was the National Enquirer, then I would say this article deserves to be placed where it is but to make statments of "he said or she said" with no facts, not names, no reputable eye-witnesses, that is a crime committed by any legitimate historian. Did they serve as interpreters, most likely. After all, they were given equal status with the rest of the non-German Europeans. If the Germans asked them to interpret, I can't see them running the risk of saying, "Sorry, but I won't do that." Who in their right mind would have under those conditions. To make the accusation that they assisted in the slaughter of the Lutsk Ghetto, then that is a very serious accusation and deserving of facts if one is going to make such a statement. Even the person that wrote in the letter to the Jersulem Post only seems to be suffering from the envy that the Karaites escaped persecution. Distraught by the fact that they could move about freely while Rabbanites didn't have that luxury. When did that become a crime? When is survival a crime?
To Ross's credit, after he paints this very unsupported picture of Karaite atrocities, he talks about the Karaites of Vilna who not only aided their Rabbanite brethren by providing them with forged Karaite identification papers and often took them in, pretending that they were members of their families. But even after providing this clear evidence that Karaites did aid their fellow Jews during the war, Ross concludes the episode by describing the Karaite attitude towards the Holocaust as best being "apathetic." Tell that to Rikhail Iosefova Goldenthal who willingly gave up her life to aid her fellow Jews as described in a previous hub.
At this stage I conclude debating the statements made by Dan Ross regarding Karaites. There is nothing really much more to say. When a people are actually condemend for using their wiles in order to survive then that is a clear statement that we are still labelled by the accustion of being 'Mamzerim'. Reconciliation is nothing more than a remote dream because prejudices cannot be wiped clean that easily. But then again, the only reconciliation I believe possible is for the Rabbanites to make a dramatic shift away from the Talmud and embrace the Torah as it was intended to be the only law to govern us.